EPO - JEAN CHEREAU SAS v/ SCHMITZ CARGOBULL AG

Decision date

2015-10-06

Nature

Patent

Jurisdiction

EPO - Opposition Division

Parties

JEAN CHEREAU SAS v/ SCHMITZ CARGOBULL AG

The patentee, Jean Chereau SAS, was represented by Julien Thon, European Patent Attorney. The decision of the Opposition Division is entirely favorable to the patentee and maintains the patent as granted.

The company Schmitz Cargobull formed opposition against European Patent No. 2 412 613 of Jean Chereau SAS on the basis of lack of disclosure, novelty and inventive step.

The invention relates to a body module for a refrigerated vehicle.

The main objective of the invention is to provide a body module having good thermal insulation properties as well as good mechanical shock resistance. The aim of the invention is also to provide a body module that can be easily handled with limited risk of damage.

To this end, the European patent of CHEREAU namely proposes to provide a body vehicle comprising at least one vacuum insulation element provided with a core and with an encapsulation membrane, and a protective casing overmoulded on the encapsulation membrane in order to entirely embed the vacuum insulation element, the protective casing being made in a material more rigid than the material of the encapsulation membrane.

Firstly, the opponent argued that the term "rigid" is not an abstract property but still dependent on the mechanical stress was applied and on the geometry.

The Opposition Division considered on the contrary that the rigidity of a material is a mechanical property of the material and, as such, remains unchanged regardless of its use.

Accordingly, the Opposition Division considered that claim 1 fulfills the requirements of Article 83 EPC.

Secondly, the opponent raised a lack of novelty based on document JP 10-114245, D1.

Following the arguments developed by the company JEAN CHEREAU, the Opposition Division considered that claim 1 was new in view of D1 since this previous document does not disclose a protective casing made in a material more rigid than the material of the encapsulation membrane, neither the embedded arrangement of the vacuum insulation element.

Thirdly, the opponent raised an objection against the inventive step of claim 1 by considering D1 and EP 1 045 079 (D4).

Following the arguments developed by the company JEAN CHEREAU, the Opposition Division considered that D4 does not disclose the features of claim 1 relating to the rigidity of the protective casing and the embedded arrangement of the vacuum insulation element.

Besides, the Opposition Division noted that all the embodiments of D4 teaches to the skilled person to use adhesives to secure the vacuum insulation element to the protective casing. Accordingly, the skilled person would have had no reason to replace the use of adhesives by an overmoulding.

The Opposition Division considered finally that claim 1 was inventive in view of the state of the art and decided to maintain the European patent No. 1,612,126 without modification.

This decision highlights the importance of determining, in order to assess inventive step, the true teaching of the state of the art in order to study if the skilled person would be induced or not to combine this document with another document of the state of the art.

The decision of the Opposition Division has not been appealed and is therefore final.